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Turkey Day Tips from a Restaurant Chef

November 24, 2009 2 comments

Ok, so this isn’t really running related but it IS my other passion, cooking.

So, for those of you anointed the task of preparing the Turkey Day feast, I thought I’d give you some of my secrets and recipes.

Tip #1 is getting the Bird ready.  I have brined my turkey for the last few years with great results. First, make sure turkey is defrosted (if frozen, I prefer fresh turkeys), remove the neck and giblets from cavity, then place in brining solution.

Brine

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of water.  If you have a huge bird and need more brine, add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt for every extra gallon of water you use.

Soak in brine for 4-24 hours.  What is happening is the meat is absorbing the solution, so it will retain water during cooking and be juicier.  Kind of like how runners retain water when eating high sodium diet before a marathon 🙂

After brining is done.  Rinse turkey, rub with softened butter, kosher salt, black pepper (to taste), stuff with quartered white onion, carrots, celery, thyme. (I like to slide some butter cubes under the skin also)

Cook 1 hour breast side down, flip over, add  and continue cooking until internal temp is at least 165.  Baste every 15-20 minutes, until done.  If skin is brown and crispy and turkey is still not done, cover with foil to prevent burning of skin.

A couple other tips…

Turkey aside, not everything has to be cooked on Thursday!  Get as much prep, cutting, peeling, etc done earlier in the week.  Tuesday and Wednesday.  It will make your day, SO MUCH easier!  I trim green beans, peel carrots, peel potatoes, make gravy ahead of time.  And we all know that Thanksgiving dinner tastes even better the 2nd day, right!  That’s because all those flavors of the stuffing, sauces, etc get to “marry” and incorporate overnight.  Why not have this happen on Wednesday night and make your life easy on Thursday!  Enjoy Thanksgiving!

Another one of my staple T-Day recipes is homemade cranberry sauce.  Buy some whole cranberries, usually in 1lb bags.

1 lb fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 orange, zested

bring water and sugar to boil, add cranberries and zest and boil until cranberries have popped and start to soften (about 10-15 min) take off heat and cool.  Mixture will turn to jelly and tastes delicious 🙂

Cranberry sauce, homemade!

It will be a little chunky, not the usual can shaped cran-jello, but oh, so good!

Here is a recipe I’m trying for the first time this year.  Found it online at food network.  Actually saw it on the food channel while on the exercise bike at the gym and decided I MUST try this…

Apple, Walnut & Sausage Stuffing

I used a mix of breakfast sausage and Chorizo for the restaurant.  For my real Thanksgiving I will use a spicier Chorizo from Mexico.  Make sure you take the skin off of all sausage.

This is the dish that will make your kitchen smell like Thanksgiving…fresh sage, apples, cider.  Wow.

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